Saturday, June 11, 2016

Choosing happiness

So I'm having trouble focusing on the work I actually have to do in order to, you know, get paid, because all I can think of is packing and getting it over with as I move out of my Lansdale apartment in August. You know that feeling as well, I'm sure, if you know a move is imminent. But I digress. I noticed, in taking breathers between my work and packing boxes, that I have a lot of saved drafts in my Blogger account but never published any of them...and it's been that way for the past year. I think for a lot of people that had previously read my posts and followed them when I wrote more frequently while at the boiling point of my probably seemed like the whole "no news is good news" thing in that I'd been inactive on here, so it must have all passed. For those that are anxious like me, you're probably laughing at that also.

To an extent, I think I stopped doing this because it's difficult to admit that, while you feel like you're personally better and you're wanting to go places/do things like a non-anxious human being again after what seemed like an eternity, there are these other areas in your life that are just falling apart and you cannot control them on your own, or at all even. Talking about unraveling was, in itself, one of the hardest but best things I've ever done. Both in the therapist's office and on here. In being open about it online, I connected with so many others in confidence that dealt with similar situations and, for once, even though I felt lonely so many times, I knew definitively that I wasn't alone.  

So much happened since I felt like I fell apart. I say "felt like" because I always had this nagging feeling that the sheer force of the pain would be finite, I just didn't know when it would stop, how much it would stop... and I would wonder if I'd someday stop being always anxious and return to being Lauren, who happens to be anxious sometimes. The therapy and medicine...well, I am glad I picked myself up from laying my living room floor and managed to, with a lot of support, pursue both of those avenues. For anyone who feels hopeless, my heart breaks because I've been there and for those that never see that it does get better, I break a little more.

Even in the past year, which has been marked by so much progress, I would sometimes go back to wondering if I would ever be a happy person again in my life and I guess even though it wasn't evident to me, I was strong enough, even when I didn't feel like it, to go on and hope that I'd figure out what I wanted in life in order to be happy. As I recovered, and in many ways continue to, I felt like I made a lot of trade-offs. I traded in being scared shitless because I didn't know why I was so twisted all the time, to finally understanding and recently accepting, why I felt so hopeless. I won't mince words, I'd be predisposed to all of this no matter what the circumstance, but losing myself to this extent...well it was unprecedented to me. I'd somehow managed to go through what I felt like was so much before age 30 and, for what I thought was no real reason, I broke. It never made sense. It does now. 

To say that's a big part of moving past it and moving forward is the understatement of the century. We are all a work in progress, but I am finally moving forward and pushing my limits. For anyone that is too scared to, I implore you to try. It's been difficult, wonderful, scary and empowering. So worth it. The therapy and medicine helped and still do, though I feel like I am faring well now with less of both. On the other side of the coin, I think it took me this long to figure out that some of the things I thought helped were actually detrimental and so the next chapter is going to be a boundary pusher for me something fierce. I choose happiness, though, and I don't think I'll ever deprive myself of that again due to anxiety. Fighting past it is so very worth it. 

If you're reading this and never knew that the last two years were some of the most formative, challenging and humbling of my life, feel free to read my archives and ask. My life is an open book. For those that helped and continue to, in any way whatsoever, I feel like I owe you so much and always appreciate the support and will try to do the same for you. For those that don't understand, don't feel bad. I don't on some days, either. But don't judge anyone you know that is dealing with this...questions are OK. Wondering is OK. But, and this is notable, discrediting mental health diagnoses of any kind is unacceptable and, unlike the Lauren of 2014, this one has enough sass to not ever tolerate that.

 I haven't seen a lot of you in the past couple of years and being an extrovert myself, that's sucked immensely. But I'm ready to be out there and in good company again, so I welcome the chance to reconnect. Again, I choose happiness...always happiness.


Monday, July 6, 2015

How Facebook changed it all

Often,  I think about how silly I was in high school (and beyond that, let's be real)...and before the popularity in social media skyrocketed, one could just have memories and some pictures (developed at your local pharmacy or grocery store) to look back and laugh at from those periods of growth. 

And the memories, over time, changed and became grey (i.e. the memories became a memory of a memory and thus grew more convoluted and softened)... so the pain or anguish you'd feel over a mistake or a low period would dissipate bc the severity of the memory became lessened. Your mind would kind of protect itself and soothe the shame/regret associated with said era. Not so bad, eh?

Social media allows you to have an actual, concrete record of all achievements (which is pretty damn cool) AND mistakes (ah, the other end of the coin). One is able to date as far back as a decade (that's how long I've been on Facebook and other social media for) and literally see a snapshot of your life's peaks and lows over the last 10 years. It's all documented in messages, comments and photos. That is kind of an insane concept. And it never occurred to me in full until now. 

Facebook, for me and many others, is just a big collection of EVERYTHING...memories, life events (good and bad)...and that is INSANE! I, in looking back, even noticed a small number of deleted friends over the course of my breakdown/recovery when computer browsing was one of the five or six things I felt comfortable doing... and it took me 3-5 years to notice that I/the other person decided to end whatever relationship we had (more often casual acquaintances or former supervisees that conveniently reappear when looking for a reference). This ending of sorts usually comes with no real reason in 99% of the instances. In all instances except for serious relationships that mattered, I am unable to recall whose choice it was to end things. For many reasons, I'm not one of those cool girls that's BFFs with my ex-husband post-divo, but kudos to all of you that were able to remain that amicable. 

I only ever intended to use social media to replace AOL Instant Messenger as everyone I knew that lived far from me made the shift and left AIM-remember all those font choices and passive-aggressive away messages with emojis? it was my goal, ultimately, to remain in contact with geographically-distant pals on a higher level with chat sessions, pictures and things AIM didn't offer. Plus, we often made friendships with one another's friends from other circles which was fun (the more, the better back in one's 20s)...and now it's all become this major THING. This app on our phones that we use while waiting for the doctor to call us in for our flu shot or while we're hanging out in a long line at the grocery store. My generation, and perhaps the one before it, is the first to see SUCH a major shift in the way folks socially interact, and we're the first to have a literal online catalog of the past 10 years' of our life events, for better or worse. 

I imagine the goal of this whole social networking shebang was for us as a society to be able to connect more easily (and I am sure Zuck and good old "Tom" from MySpace (wonder what he's up to?) didn't plan on this stuff not being a moneymaker. But in discussing with friends in real time or real-life settings, not via comment threads or use of emoji-only convos, I've come to realize that I am not the only one that, outside of feeling depressed due to a diagnosed illness, feels terribly lonely. While I am very thankful that there's a platform out there that has kept me closer to old friends than I probably would have been without it, it also makes folks complacent. 

My mind is kind of blown at that...perhaps I am being overly philosophical here? Where was this skill in college during my critical thinking class? haha

Friday, April 10, 2015

the good old days

Bear with me tonight; I am a bit nostalgic.And I ramble.

There have been years (three or four straight at a clip) where I felt actual happiness and didn't think much about each step I took in my life. In those years, I traveled wherever I wanted to whenever I wanted to. I worried a lot, but I also had a lot of fun. I dated men and those relationships ended (duh, as proven by my being engaged to a wonderful man today). I watch the Duggar family on TV all the time; while I don't agree with the vast majority of their life views, they may be on to something in their idea that romantic relationships are best pursued in a spiritual and non-physical way before getting to the next steps, many of them occurring after marriage.

I finally found a funny, kind, handsome and Godly man and I bring to the table a lot of baggage from relationships that weren't his fault, things I didn't deal with in full after they happened. I am thankful that the "baggage" is just the feeling of failure and with the exception of my ex-husband, I really did date a good group of guys who just weren't meant to be life mates for me. But the baggage is there and the fear that I will fail this great man looms. I never assume the future will be as good as it was; having depression/anxiety issues lends itself to a bleak outlook that one must combat and fight against in an effort to retrain one's way of thinking.

And that is the tip of the iceberg, honey. The fear of failure in the future runs deep and I blame only some of it on my being wired to be hard on myself and be anxious. I was talking to my oldest friend from elementary school on the phone for the first time in over 15 years and we talked, in real time, about how no one really is "present" anymore. We're all in our smartphones, too busy posting life on our social media accounts to actually sit and breathe in the smells, hear the sounds, etc. I have also discussed this topic with a dear friend from graduate school and we've talked about the therapeutic benefits to disengaging from all of the technology and just talking, reading a book, meditating, etc. We discussed the good old days of grad school when we'd all get there early (if you're in grad school chances are you're an overachiever of sorts, so most of my buds were at class 10-20 minutes before class start time, raring to go).

We talked about how, even though I only graduated five years ago this May, we used to all sit around and bullshit with one another before class. I had a smartphone then, but it didn't feel like a part of my body and it was easily silenced. I went out to bars and taverns with friends and we talked about all types of good stuff. My second year of grad school before I got married, I went on tried-and-true dates with a few men. Does dating exist anymore? Like, the non-boyfriend, seeing-what-happens thing?

This was even more common while earning my B.A. I used AIM and my flip phone to stay in touch. Texting was only for instances where a phone call wasn't possible and AIM allowed me to go "away" to spend time in real life with my friends at res hall programs, restaurants, or just walking around campus talking about everything and nothing at the same time. I met most of my long-term boyfriends through shared interests and social events with mutual friends. It's how I met my Mikey, it just took us six years to get to now :)

When I visited my family at home, I stayed in the know with what was going on in my social life and regret that in hindsight. All of my buds would have still been there after I spent a day or two immersed in my familial routines. But I was never really "there." Always on to the next thing mentally, even though physically I was at the dinner table or putzing around in the kitchen making salad or guacamole. Wondering what tomorrow would look like. And when it came, wondering what the next week looked like. And that is the essence of where I am at now. Always wondering when the panic will happen again to a debilitating point. Always looking over my shoulder.

I not only came to terms this past year with my mental health and the fact that I don't have just "phases" of bad feelings but an ongoing condition...but I also realized that I am a highly sensitive person. Don't mince words; this does not indicate that I am any less strong than someone who lacks sensitivity. Rather, things affect me profoundly. It's why, though I am SO much better this year than I was last, I am still not where I want to be. It's why all of my failed relationships that led me to Mike each took a piece of my heart because with each person, I gave of myself in a very holistic way and when things didn't work out, I felt like a piece of me would never come back and I would never feel whole.

I also realized that I can't help how out society is now. I can't help the existence of stupid articles about Bruce Jenner that I see posted everywhere, but I can stop being pissed off at the ignorant journalists who won't leave well enough alone and let a person (albeit a very public celebrity) live privately. I can't help that social media changed the landscape of how we interact with people and how we perceive things in a very profound way. But I can control how I utilize it and use its powers for good. I also can't control that I have a mental illness, but I can work on changing how I let it affect my self-esteem and stop worrying first and foremost about how my condition makes others feel. If I can rest knowing I have done all I can at the end of a day to educate, advocate, explain and work to help others understand and feel comfortable around me in a time where I feel like an alien in my own skin, then that has to be enough. And it is. Though I wish I could get some of those others to feel the same. Losing friendships in a time when you feel like you're just plain losing it is hard. Luckily, I've reestablished ties with more people than I have lost contact with.

But those good old days...I can't get them back. And while I can control whether or not to wallow in that fact, I ultimately do because life goes so slow and so fast at the same time. A workday drags on, but before I know it, we're one-third through the year. I wish, in years past when my legs felt sturdier and my heart lighter, I had taken the time to breathe in the smell of my old dorm rooms, find comfort in the sound of my Aunt Roseanne's voice and her Easter cooking, took time to talk about life and dogs on grocery trips with my mom, and savored my dad's antipasto and his wisdom over the past 15 Christmases. Or taken the time to visit my brother more in college and congratulate him on how much he did to make his way through school. Or enjoyed my courtship with my life mate rather than wondering when we would move in, get engaged, have babies...

It's like Andy said in the finale of The Office..."I'm still just thinking about my old pals. Only now, they're the ones I made here. I wish there was a way to know you're in 'the good old days.' before you've actually left them."

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Reflections from 2014

I haven't written in a very, very long time so I thought it fitting to take some time this weekend and write for fun. I should, of course, have done this while business was slow (because everyone was buying Christmas presents instead of resumes)...but now is as good a time as any.

Well, for anyone that knows me personally or who follows me on Facebook knows that I had a severe panic and anxiety episode that showed symptoms as early as October 2013, exacerbated right after the holidays in 2013 and stayed really bad until I got linked together with the right care providers and medicines in late January 2014. I don't really remember much of the month prior to that. I spent most of my days trying to sleep or eat. I lost 10lbs during that time.

From there, it was and has been an uphill battle to get back to feeling like myself. I spent most of 2014 being scared of things. Being afraid to eat (which my medicine not only cured, but caused a 30-pound weight gain, which hurts the self-esteem pretty badly). We are, however, in the process of starting to diet and eat better together thanks to some good books from the in-laws. The "we" I am referring to is me and my now-fiance Michael. He spent a good part of 2014 serving as more of a caretaker than a partner and I am happy to say now that he has effectively been able to return to a more "partner-in-crime" capacity. Still, it's been a transition going from being almost wholly dependent on him to learning how to spread my own wings. Sometimes that comes naturally and I almost feel 100% again. Other times, the bad days still rear their ugly heads. Nevertheless, each day is ultimately a little more normal and farther away from what I went through a year ago. Others strive for excitement and worldly adventures. I strive to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine, eat a cheesesteak, see friends and shop in Dollar tree without having any moments where my confidence in my stability is shaken to its core.

Outside of my major GAD/Panic Disorder and Depression flare-up, it was just a difficult year overall; even the most even-tempered individual would have wigged out a little. My aunt died in late October after suffering for over a decade with numerous health issues. The worst part of that is that we spent most of that decade not talking, for reasons none of my immediate or extended family members recall anymore. When someone dies in an untimely manner (no matter the state of their health), it's hard to grapple with the anger and the resentment over losing someone too soon. It's also been continually difficult, as one of the many left behind, to think of the what-ifs. I wonder if she'd still be here if I visited more, called more, spoke up on her behalf more when she didn't have the strength to in the presence of her (incopmpetent) care providers. I should have been her care provider. I used to be able to swoop in if you knew me two years ago. I lost my helping tools when she needed them the most.  It gets better with the passing of time, but it never really stops hurting when you love someone that much. She was an integral part of m childhood, adolescence and early adulthood and it's been very hard to go on in the world knowing that she isn't co-existing here with me. Plus, my mom lost her great-cousin Al and he was a pretty steady fixture in my childhood and a great man.

My parents also lost two of their three pets this year, each long before they should have died. One was due to an accident (being hit by a car) and the other suffered from epilepsy for most of her life and suffered from a stroke or some other form of trauma before the vet decided it was best for her to be laid to rest.  I am thankful and humbled by the fact that both of our own pets have been doing well health-wise. But I've noticed, both with me and those close in age to me that I talk to, that the older we get, the more we're aware of mortality in general. When my friends and I were in college, we all thought we were invincible.

Though I lost a lot of friends and acquaintances to death (and saw them lose family members, too)...I never really thought about when I would have to deal with that and how I would cope. Then once it started to happen, I went the complete opposite way and I live in fear of losing everything. But I lost my job and survived. I found a gig that perfectly complements my skill set and my current situation. Had this whole messy breakdown not happened, I would still be working in settings that made me feel uncomfortable, underpaid and in some cases emotionally abused. Life is too short and no one deserves that. I  believe that one should feel comfortable and happy in a job. It was a happy accident  that I finally found a writing job that allows me to use the skills I gleaned from both degrees I earned.

Sometimes loss doesn't mean death in the literal sense-I logically know I can't control when people do and don't die. But this year, I did lose or grow distant from a small unrelated group of longtime friends when I got sick. It's unexpected when the people you believe to be most compassionate and supportive suddenly become unavailable or overly self-absorbed during the one time you need them...after all the times you've been their rock.

And in turn, you find compassion and healing from folks you haven't talked to in years, but affected enough that they decided to reach out to offer words of love and encouragement. The friends piece has been a great lesson in setting boundaries. I take the time to care for and nurture those that do the same. Even if my health or schedule doesn't allow me to take road trips or send extravagant presents...I still make an effort. It's been a lonely year and I finally realized that in order to stop being lonely, I have to let love in. And let go of those that don't love me. That process doesn't have to be negative. Sometimes, relationships just need a breather or room to grow. And in that time, I choose to favor nurturing and fruitful relationships in place of the ones that drain me.

Still a work in progress...still hanging on. -L

Friday, December 5, 2014

holiday recap

The holidays have been extra special for me this year for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, it's a series of "firsts" without my Aunt Roe - it's the first time in my 30 years that she hasn't existed on this planet with me during this time of year. Her being gone is sometimes difficult to fathom but I am told it takes time. Logically I know this, but it doesn't stop hurting.

It's also special because, at this time a year ago, I was starting to unravel and head towards a complete meltdown. This year, I am working to build things back up. A lot has happened over the past couple of months. I continue therapy and medicine and both help. The bad days happen, but they don't dominant me as much. I handled a major family death, a move to a new house in a new neighborhood,...and so on. Friendships were gained, lost, reestablished, strengthened, etc. Lots of soul searching. Lots of alone time. And slowly, I am coming out of my shell, I think.

I was also dreading the holidays this year. It's been kind of a reclusive year, so socializing and being jovial were scary prospects. Thanksgiving, I am happy to say, exceeded all expectations. I was able to celebrate with both my family and my in-laws and hope to see extended family on both sides in the future, as well as friends.

I am a work in progress. We all are. It's important to remember that, especially during this time of year. It is also good to keep in mind that anxiety suffers have to take special measures to get through holiday events that come easily to those who are less prone to anxiety and depression. Practice kindness and show those around you grace. And have a wonderful holiday everyone!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Aunt Roe

This past week has been one for the books. My Aunt Roseanne was admitted to the hospital the week before last for complications associated with her diabetes/other health issues. She went home the following Monday (this past Monday) and set up a wellness plan moving forward that included a new diet, occupational therapy and physical therapy, along with her home health care. To provide some background, she had been dealing with heart issues and diabetes for the past decade or so and her health had deteriorated slowly over the course of the past 10 years.

One thing I admittedly struggle with is how hard it was to watch my aunt suffer in the year since we reconnected. I recently reestablished a relationship with my aunt after my immediate family not speaking with our extended family for some time (for reasons none of us can remember anymore). It made me anxious to visit her because it was hard to see her in physical and emotional agony. In the course of the years we hadn't talked, she lost her ability to drive and walk. Also, she lost a major support source in the form of her romantic partner. After not seeing her for over a decade, it also dawned on me upon first gaze that she's aged to look very much like my long-deceased and still-beloved "Nanny." All of this fear and anxiety (notice a common theme on my blog here?) kept me from seeing her more than I would have under normal, "old me" circumstances. But I was still thankful for what we had this past year. It took us too long to get to that point. It should have happened years ago but I'm thankful that it even happened at all.

Roe often confessed that she felt she was following in her mother's footsteps and didn't want to die too soon before her time, but she struggled to find that spark that one needs to go on and fight the good fight. I had the pleasure of visiting her in December before Christmas and again in the Spring before Easter. I emailed and called frequently in between, and she did the same in return. She was legitimately the only person in my circle who understood how it felt to be housebound (her situation due to disability, mine due to my aforementioned breakdown and recovery from anxiety and panic disorders). We talked, laughed and cried a lot. And I tried to say all the things I had in my pep talk arsenal to inspire her and give her a reason for continuing, even stating that I wanted her to be there to meet my future children-kiddos that I'm still not even sure I'll have. I reminded her of her family and friend-based support network and that she was never alone, even if that was often the case physically.

The last time we talked was this past Wednesday night right before the newest episode of SVU. All we did was talk, laugh and smile. She was unusually optimistic and happy. I felt like maybe all of her family's kind words and encouragement/tough love finally seeped through and made a change. It never occurred to me that her optimism could be something ominous or a calm before the storm. Less than 24 hours after my aunt told me how good she felt and how she was looking forward to her physical therapy and baking cookies this Christmas after a long hiatus from her normal annual baking duties, I found out that she died.

On Thursday, she fell down in her house while under the care of her home nurse and physical therapist. She was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, 30 minutes from my apartment and 12ish hours after I talked with her. About how Mike and I had plans to bring her homemade fried rice after moving into our house the end of the month; she adhered to a low-potassium diet and this delicacy was surprisingly in adherence to her food restrictions. And we'd even planned to bring our dog to visit , since animals are the best therapy.

We had plans. She set goals for herself and I set some of my own to hold up my end of the deal. We both worked this year to try and get well again in our own ways. Both of our plans involved one another. I've obsessed over what reason there could be behind why she survived numerous heart attacks and hospital visits, but died at home as she took her first step to finally getting better in both body and spirit. There is no logic, I've come to find. It's not ours to understand and I still don't get it.

To say that she was special and an integral part of my formative years is an understatement. She took me on shopping trips, kept me company during my brother's little league games, took me to get my driver's license when I was 17 and scared to drive my parents' stick-shift cars, and even sat with me when I had kidney stones in my freshman year of college and was stuck in the hospital for eight hours. Little did I know that 12 years later, she'd die in the same hospital system where she sat with me and helped me go through the agony of stones, which pale in comparison to the internal battle she dealt with each day to survive and go on.

This year has been one of the most challenging and vulnerable ones of my life. I have never felt so raw, afraid, excited, sad, name it. Mt dear aunt helped me survive. She was one of the many reasons I chose to keep going on during times when I didn't know if it was worth the trouble -depression is a tricky bastard like that, but it's getting better. Grief  hurts. I know it gets better with time, but it hurts like hell. And even more so when you're an adult and you have a keener understanding of death and mortality.

Because of my improving but ongoing social phobias, I am remembering her in my own way in my own home because I know I won't make it through the formal services that have been arranged in her honor. But I know that for this past year, I was there as much as I could be. And she gave as much of herself as she could in return. I will always love her and always miss her.

I will always be jealous of the in peace Aunt Roseanne

Monday, September 29, 2014

it isn't the same anymore...

I think I am only now starting to realize why the last episode of How I Met Your Mother (from here on in referred to as HIMYM) struck a real chord with me. I was emotional when my all-time fave series, "Friends" ended, but I have been ruminating over the "Last Forever" episode of HIMYM stuck with me even months later. And I didn't know why. Initially, I chalked it up to the network airing it during a turbulent period of my depression. Or that I think that whole Ted and Robin ending sucks (it does, but the alternate ending solved all of that hoopla).

I think it's more than that. The characters are roughly close in age to where I am at now. Having gone through a divorce, it was hard to see one of my favorite couples go through what I sounds so silly, but I remember the folks in my life not getting why I was opting for a divorce, or the ones that did understand not really understanding how it feels. Now, as we all get older, more and more peers are starting to "get it" firsthand, unfortunately - it's something I don't wish on anyone. I learned a lot, but that experience left me jaded and scarred and I think only now am I letting myself be vulnerable to that.

I think the friendship stuff got to me the most. Watching the HIMYM gang drift. The girls of Sex & the City managed to make it work. So did the gang at Central Perk. But that wasn't real. The way things unfolded in the HIMYM finale was alarmingly true to life. I talk with Mike a lot about how easy it was to form lasting and deep friendships in high school and college. It was even easy to sustain friendships in those first couple of years after school because a lot of our friends live relatively nearby.

But then people get married. Divorced. Pregnant. Fired. Sick, Jaded. Lost. You name it. Life happens. And it comes at you fast and hard. And those formerly easily-maintained bonds fall by the wayside and it's no one's fault. Sometimes it is, but for the most past we drift naturally. No more bonding over shared academic interests and favorite pubs. No more experiencing the common feeling of living in a residence hall - an experience that I somehow had the emotional fortitude to endure throughout all of my undergrad years - and as an RA!

The drift makes sense and it's a fact of life, but it doesn't stop stinging. And when you're like me and depression and anxiety waves wash over you...and it takes effort to brush your hair and work and even get out of bed, it's hard to gain a realistic perspective or insight. It's also hard to know when not to blame your own mental illness and instead blame someone else for just being plain negligent.

Depression makes you loathe yourself, Guilt washes over you along with the sadness and loneliness. You see the worst case scenario all of the time because you live in a tunnel with all roads out leading to negative outcomes. It's the illness and it's not real, but it feels like it is. Same thing with the evolution of relationships as we grow older. It's nothing personal, but when you feel the loss it doesn't hurt any less.

Growing up is hard. I think all my work in higher education delayed my journey out into true adulthood on some levels...Very emotional these past couple of days. Trying to see the light instead of the dark at the end of the tunnel. Trying to remember that I'm so much farther along in the tunnel than I was in the spring. It''s just hard when your best friends don't live across the street or down the hall of your college dorm. I miss those school bus rides. Or the movie nights in the college rec room. The campus events that I got to attend instead of work at. The late-night shared pizza orders and trips to the crappy basement-esque bar. Half-priced appetizers after work. Always feeling loved, like I was the piece of a larger, really great puzzle. I am thankful for all of my current "puzzles" but miss fitting into more of them in a natural and organic way.

I took those sweet days of my early 20s for granted and while I wouldn't go back to that way of life for good (I enjoy grown-up paychecks, thank you very much) , a day or two would be quite the vacation from all of the intentionality and responsibility.

Dreaming of it right now....